Kids & Heart Health

Maybe we should update the old saying, “have a heart” to something like “have a healthy heart.” The reason…..a new study from the American Heart Association (AHA) suggests the heart health of American kids is not good at all.

From U.S. News & World Report:

The cardiovascular health of U.S. children is strikingly dismal, so says a new statement from the American Heart Association.

Specifically, less than 1 percent of American children meet the organization’s definition of ideal cardiovascular health, according to statement author Dr. Julia Steinberger, a professor in pediatrics and director of pediatric cardiology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

According to Fox News Health, “About 91 percent of U.S. children have poor diets, because they’re consuming sugary food and drinks. Only about half of young boys and a third of young girls between ages 6 and 11 are meeting the minimum recommended amount of physical activity per day of 60 minutes, according to the AHA. Those between ages 16 and 19 were even less likely to reach that goal.”

United Press International (UPI) quoted Dr. Steinberger as saying, “A primary reason for so few children having ideal cardiovascular health is poor nutrition. Children are eating high-calorie, low-nutrition foods and not eating enough healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, fish and other foods strongly associated with good heart health and a healthy body weight.”

Medical News Today pointed out “the prevalence of obesity has risen dramatically over the past four decades for youths 2-19 years of age. U.S. data indicate that 17 percent of 2- to 19-year-olds are obese, and an additional 15 percent are overweight.”

So, we can we do to help our kids build stronger, healthier hearts? Science Daily listed several key health factors and behaviors used to determine whether a child’s cardiovascular health is ideal:

  • not using tobacco products;
  • maintaining a healthy body weight
  • getting at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity;
  • eating a healthy diet as well as having healthy cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

Reuters News added that the results should be a wake-up call and the study’s lead author said getting kids back on track will not be easy.

“It’s very difficult to achieve this if you only target the child,” said Dr. Steinberger. “It has to be a commitment of the entire family.”

Share your thoughts on these sobering numbers and what it might take here in Arizona to turn them around. Pointing out that there is a problem is only part of the issue. Finding innovative ways to address those problems is a big part of our long-term plan to one day make Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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